Paul Cantrell’s music blog & podcast
Piano music old and new from a devoted amateur,
all free to listen to, download, and share.
The first Bach of the weblog, one of his sinfonias (also known as three-part inventions). The three parts in this one are not obvious at first: the upper two voice are wonderfully intertwined, and do an intricate little tango together as third voice turns slowly underneath. I love the way it unfolds.

I’ve re-encoded all the pieces in this blog using VBR, which I think has improved the sound quality notably. (Now why I didn’t do that in the first place?) For those of you not familiar with the term, variable bit rate encoding basically increases the sound quality at sensitive moments when your ears are likely to detect the difference.

The MP3s still don’t sound as good as the better-than-CD-quality originals — sorry, I just don’t have the bandwidth to post those! — but they now have more of the clarity and transparency of the originals, as if a thin veil was lifted from the sound.

If you’re hanging on to all these recordings, I recommend re-downloading the ones you already have, particularly Three Places, which is my personal favorite of the recordings I’ve posted so far.

Something sweet today: a bit of magic from Brahms.

Intermezzo Op 116 No 4
Paul Cantrell, piano

These late Brahms pieces — same with the first recording in this weblog — are amazing to me as a composer. They sound lush, but the writing is actually quite spare and elemental. The structures are at once formal and organic, like Bach preludes. And the incredible emotional intimacy, their sense of being so personal, is like no other music I know.

But enough of that — writing about music is…well…you know. (That should not stop you from posting a comment, though!) Enjoy listening.

Today’s recording is a composition of my own, which I see I play a bit faster than I did three years ago. I like the new version — I think the faster tempo in the middle sustains the structural momentum a bit better — but of course I may have changed my mind about that three years from now. That’s the fun of interpretation: it’s never done!

Music readers and visual aesthetes can follow along with the score.

In a Perfectly Wounded Sky
Paul Cantrell, piano

The opening chord of this piece was the starting point for Saturday’s recording, Lingle.

Recordings of compositions are many months, sometimes years, in preparation. It takes me a long time to learn pieces, and even longer to write them! But I’m sticking with this plan of posting a recording every Saturday and Tuesday regardless, which means that many of the recordings will be entirely spontaneous improvisations — like this one.

I’d originally meant to give all the improvs pleasing nonsense names, in the manner of Autechre, but for now, at least…

Paul Cantrell, piano

…I’ll be naming them after towns in Wyoming.

Tonight was a satisfying finish to the week’s little mad rush, and the first full house of this round. The fellow who rebuilt my piano, and made it the great instrument it is, was here tonight. It was the first time he’d heard it since I bought it. I hope he saw how well-loved it is!

  • Schumann – Bunte Blätter 6
  • Bach – Sinfonia 5
  • Cantrell – Cradle Waltz
  • Cantrell – Entropic Waltz
  • Carei Thomas – Fragrance XIV: Cjalme
  • Brahms – Intermezzo Op 116 No 4
  • Chopin – Nocturne Op 55 No 1
  • Todd Harper – Thoughts at 4 AM
  • Cantrell – In a Perfectly Wounded Sky
  • Brahms – Intermezzo Op 117 No 1
  • Chopin – Ballade No 3

Best ballade yet since college, thanks to a critique from Don on Monday which boiled down to “don’t let the rhythmic sense of the dance destroy the syntax.” Esoteric performer talk there, but I think the audience felt they difference — they responded strongly to the piece tonight. (Hmm. A realization: although it’s a little disconcerting at times, I like facing the audience and being so close to them; it lets me gauge their reactions to a degree I never can on stage.)